BMW 4 Series review

Category: Coupé

The 4 Series Coupé is great to drive, smart inside and reasonably roomy

BMW 4 Series front cornering
  • BMW 4 Series front cornering
  • BMW 4 Series rear cornering
  • BMW 4 Series interior dashboard
  • BMW 4 Series boot open
  • BMW 4 Series interior driver display
  • BMW 4 Series right driving
  • BMW 4 Series front driving
  • BMW 4 Series front cornering
  • BMW 4 Series rear cornering
  • BMW 4 Series right static
  • BMW 4 Series grille detail
  • BMW 4 Series headlights detail
  • BMW 4 Series alloy wheel detail
  • BMW 4 Series rear roof detail
  • BMW 4 Series rear lights detail
  • BMW 4 Series interior front seats
  • BMW 4 Series interior back seats
  • BMW 4 Series interior steering wheel
  • BMW 4 Series interior infotainment
  • BMW 4 Series interior detail
  • BMW 4 Series front cornering
  • BMW 4 Series rear cornering
  • BMW 4 Series interior dashboard
  • BMW 4 Series boot open
  • BMW 4 Series interior driver display
  • BMW 4 Series right driving
  • BMW 4 Series front driving
  • BMW 4 Series front cornering
  • BMW 4 Series rear cornering
  • BMW 4 Series right static
  • BMW 4 Series grille detail
  • BMW 4 Series headlights detail
  • BMW 4 Series alloy wheel detail
  • BMW 4 Series rear roof detail
  • BMW 4 Series rear lights detail
  • BMW 4 Series interior front seats
  • BMW 4 Series interior back seats
  • BMW 4 Series interior steering wheel
  • BMW 4 Series interior infotainment
  • BMW 4 Series interior detail
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Introduction

What Car? says...

Historically, BMW coupés have simply been swoopier, less practical versions of their saloon car counterparts. Not any more – the BMW 4 Series Coupé is a rakish model in its own right.

Sure, the 4 Series is still based on the same underpinnings as the more sensibly shaped BMW 3 Series but the differences go well beyond losing the two rear doors. BMW has widened the car's rear, lowered the centre of gravity, retuned the suspension and stiffened the chassis.

All that should help make the 4 Series even more agile and capable than the saloon through the corners. In other words, BMW has worked hard to make sure this a car with the performance to match its sleeker looks.

So, has it succeeded – and is the BMW 4 Series a better buy than an Audi A5 Coupé or Mercedes CLE? Read on to find out (or if you want a soft-top, check out our BMW 4 Series Convertible review)...

Overview

The BMW 4 Series is great to drive, smart inside and roomier than you might imagine. With its powerful engine, the M440i is great fun, but the 420i strikes the best balance between performance and running costs while still impressing on a twisty road.

  • More fun to drive than direct rivals
  • Range-topping M440i is seriously rapid
  • Back seats are more usable than you might imagine
  • Divisive looks
  • Rivals have more versatile folding rear seats
  • Some wind and tyre noise
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Our Pick

OurPicksRRP £44,180
Bmw 4-series 420i M Sport 2dr Step Auto
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

The entry-level engine for the BMW 4 Series Coupé is the 181bhp petrol in the 420i, which has rear-wheel-drive and is our pick of the range.

With a 0-62mph time of 7.5 seconds, it's quick enough to be fun and loves to be revved, which is in keeping with the character of a sporty coupé car.

The other engine option is the six-cylinder, 3.0-litre petrol in the M440i. With 369bhp, it has a lot more power than the 420i – so it's a good job it's fed to all four wheels for better traction.

Indeed, the M440i gets going so well that it can hit 62mph from a standstill in just 4.5 seconds, which is only slightly behind the Mercedes CLE 450’s official time (4.4 seconds). It feels pleasingly potent from low down in the rev range, and is more than happy to keep singing all the way to its red line.

For even more performance, you'll want the 503bhp M version – to read about that, see our BMW M4 review.

Whichever engine you choose, you get an automatic gearbox that makes slick changes, especially in Sport mode. You can also take control yourself using the shift paddles mounted on the steering wheel.

Every 4 Series gets variable steering as standard. It ramps up assistance to save you from excessive arm-twirling when parking, but offers less help on faster roads to prevent the car from feeling hyper-reactive to tiny steering adjustments.

It's not perfect, because the car can still feel a bit sensitive to quick inputs at higher speeds. That can be mitigated by switching to Sport mode, which adds weight to the steering to give a greater sense of connection to the front wheels and make it easier to judge how much input is required.

BMW 4 Series image
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The 4 Series' standard passive suspension is noticeably stiffer than the set-up in the BMW 3 Series and that in turn reduces body leaning, allowing you to scythe through corners more enthusiastically than in an Audi A5 or a CLE.

However, because it's more focused on delivering poise and control than wafty comfort, you feel more of bumps as they pass beneath the car than in the best versions of the A5.

For that reason, we recommend the optional adaptive suspension that comes as part of the M Sport Pro Package (which is standard on M Sport Pro Edition models and on the M440i). That lets you stiffen or soften the ride at the touch of the button. Comfort mode makes the 4 Series much calmer around town and delivers a very smooth ride on A-roads and motorways. 

In terms of refinement, the 420i is smooth and quiet enough when you’re pottering around, with a more rorty edge when pushed hard. Meanwhile, the M440i is the best sounding 4 Series – its six-cylinder engine noise is wonderfully soulful.

Every 4 Series (except the M4) has mild-hybrid technology, giving it the ability to run with the engine switched off in certain situations. It helps to smooth out the start/stop system and means the 4 Series is far less hesitant than the A5 when setting off.

Happily, there isn't much wind noise at motorway speeds, with only a bit of wind whistling from around the front windows. There's a fair amount of road noise filtering up through the floor, but the engines fade into the background at a cruise.

Driving overview

Strengths Punchy engines; rewarding handling; composed ride

Weaknesses Some road noise at speed

BMW 4 Series rear cornering

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

If there’s one area where the BMW 4 Series Coupé feels just like the 3 Series, it’s the interior. The driving position, for example, is almost identical, as are the dashboard and infotainment system.

In many ways, that's great news. It means you get a comfortable and supportive driver’s seat (as long as you add optional adjustable lumbar support) and lots of adjustment. If you want a sporty feel, you’ll probably also appreciate the fact that you sit closer to the road than in the Audi A5.

Forward visibility is good, with windscreen pillars that are slim enough not to get in the way at junctions.

Rear visibility isn’t so great, because the headrests on the back seats block much of the small rear screen and the chunky rear pillars obstruct your rear three-quarter view. Helpfully, front and rear parking sensors, plus a rear-view camera are standard on all versions of the 4 Series.

Likewise, every 4 Series has adaptive LED headlights for safe driving at night. They maintain maximum illumination without dazzling other drivers. The optional Laserlight matrix headlights are even brighter.

True, interior quality isn’t quite up there with the A5, but the margins are small. Build quality is first rate and slightly better than in the Mercedes CLE. Only a few bits of hard plastic let the side down a little. 

The infotainment system in the 4 Series is brilliant. All versions get a 14.9in display that you can either use as a touchscreen or operate by twisting and pressing a rotary controller between the front seats.

The controller is much less distracting when you’re driving and, combined with a super-intuitive operating system, is one of the main reasons we prefer the 4 Series’ infotainment to the A5’s and CLE’s.

The only slight downside is that adjusting the climate controls now requires use of the touchscreen (the latest facelift got rid of user-friendly physical buttons lower down on the dashboard).

Meanwhile, a crisp-looking 12.3in digital driver display that comes as standard with all trim levels sits beside it. It shows lots of information, even if it doesn’t offer as many layouts as the ones in the A5 and CLE.

All trims come with a DAB radio, built-in sat-nav, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring (so you can run your phone apps through the touchscreen). The optional 464W, 16-speaker Harman Kardon sound system (available in Technology and Technology Plus packs, or as a standalone option) sounds epic.

Wireless phone-charging is provided as part of the Technology Pack, which also happens to include a rather gimmicky gesture control function for the infotainment system.

Interior overview

Strengths User-friendly infotainment system; classy, high-quality interior

Weaknesses None that we’ve seen so far

BMW 4 Series interior dashboard

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

No one buys a two-door coupé like the BMW 4 Series for practicality, but the chances are you occasionally need four seats and a usable boot (otherwise, you'd be checking out our favourite sports cars).

The 4 Series is as spacious as a BMW 3 Series in the front, so you’re unlikely to have any problems with head or leg room. Storage space is impressive, too, with a big glovebox and a decent cubby under the centre armrest.

Getting into the back seats involves squeezing through a relatively narrow gap, but that’s true of any car lacking rear doors. (If you want four doors and coupé styling, take a look at the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé).

Once you’re in the back of the 4 Series, you’ll find plenty of leg room, and although taller adults will need to cower slightly or put up with their head resting on the ceiling, two six-footers will be comfortable enough in the back as long as the journey isn’t too long.

The 4 Series Coupé has a 440-litre boot, which is slightly smaller than the Audi A5 Coupé's but a little bigger than the Mercedes CLE’s.

There’s enough space for a set of golf clubs or a small pushchair, and the rear seat backs fold down in a 40/20/40 split so you can carry longer loads. The boot opening is smaller than the A5’s.

Practicality overview

Strengths Plenty of space up front; the rear seats are a good size

Weaknesses Boot opening could be a touch wider

BMW 4 Series boot open

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

The entry-level BMW 4 Series Coupé is slightly more expensive than the Audi A5 Coupé, but is also better-specced and more powerful. If you look at similarly specced versions of both cars, there's not much difference in price. 

The 4 Series is expected to hold its value against depreciation better than rival coupés which can help reduce PCP finance payments. Check out the latest prices on our new BMW deals page.

The range kicks off with sporty M Sport trim, which comes with plenty of standard goodies, including 18in alloys, leather seats (heated in the front), cruise control and three-zone climate control.

We’d recommend paying extra for adjustable lumbar support and getting the M Sport Pro pack for its adaptive suspension. That also brings a small boot-lid spoiler, larger 19in wheels and an upgraded sound system.

M Sport Pro Edition gives you a choice of three exclusive exterior colours and adds 19in alloys, sportier styling, tinted windows and the M Sport Pro Package. The range-topping M440i is very similarly equipped to the M Sport Pro Edition but, of course, you get that mighty six-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine under the bonnet.

The latest 4 Series didn't feature in our 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey but BMW finished in 12th place out of 32 brands (Audi came 26th and Mercedes in 24th).

The 4 Series comes with a three-year warranty with no mileage cap, which is good for the class because many rivals have a mileage limit.

Safety experts Euro NCAP tested the 4 Series (in conjunction with the BMW 3 Series) in 2019 and awarded it the full five-star rating. It achieved highly impressive scores for front occupants in each specific area that was tested.

It has plenty of safety kit as standard, including automatic emergency braking (AEB) and lane-departure warning. The optional Driving Assistant Professional pack (which comes as part of the Technology Plus Pack) adds adaptive cruise control, a more advanced lane-keeping assistant, a front cross-traffic alert system and automatic speed-limit assist.

Costs overview

Strengths Generous level of standard equipment; high resale value

Weaknesses Plenty of tempting options could quickly drive up the price

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BMW 4 Series interior driver display

FAQs

  • The 4 Series is longer than the BMW 3 Series but, as a two-door coupé rather than a four-door saloon, has a lower roofline towards the back.

  • The 4 Series Coupé's main rivals are the Audi A5 Coupé and the Mercedes CLE.

  • The 4 Series Coupé costs from around £45,000 – for the latest prices check our New Car Deals pages.

At a glance
New car deals
Save up to £6,111
Target Price from £41,169
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or from £424pm
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RRP price range £44,180 - £60,670
Number of trims (see all)3
Number of engines (see all)2
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)petrol
MPG range across all versions 36.7 - 44.8
Available doors options 2
Warranty 3 years / No mileage cap
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £2,808 / £4,409
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £5,615 / £8,819
Available colours